Labour's plans to redevelop the Civic Centre in Wood Green should be scrapped and the funding diverted to help communities recover and rebuild after COVID-19, Liberal Democrats have said today.
After ditching plans to move most staff and back-office Council functions to Wood Green library, last-minute proposals in Labour’s draft budget include £12 million to build new offices on the Civic Centre site. This is in addition to the £12 million of spending needed to restore and maintain the building properly, and comes despite the Council’s own appraisal showing the site is ‘not capable of being the single site for the Council Accommodation’.
Liberal Democrats will propose an amendment to the Council’s budget on 1st March 2021, arguing that this money should instead be spent in Haringey’s communities. This new ‘Community and Cultural Transformation Fund’ would be targeted at ensuring the borough’s town and district centres are fit for the future, and are sustainable in a post-covid world.
The fund would help to introduce a better, more vibrant mix of uses in our high streets - not only shops, but cultural spaces and leisure, places to eat and drink, start-up hubs, childcare services, council services and more.
Cllr Paul Dennison (LD – Highgate), Haringey Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Finance, Business and Local Investment, said:
“At a time when Haringey’s businesses and cultural sector are on their knees, and there is no certainty about the balance between office and remote working, the Labour Council spending £12 million of taxpayers’ money on new buildings for itself is a vanity project, pure and simple. We should be funding the community, not the council.
“High streets were already under strain before the pandemic hit, and repeated lockdowns will only have made things worse. It is more important than ever to invest, not just on recovery, but on making our high streets fit for the needs of a community spending more and more time in their local area. This would be the priority of any responsible administration. Sadly, in Haringey, it looks as though only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to deliver that.”